Sunday, May 23, 2010

Lessons Learned

A lesson to me is when you know something is definitive-ly a fact, but for whatever reason you don't accept it as a law of truth. The lesson part comes as an example in real life as why that something, whatever it is, is a truth.

On Tuesday, June 18th, I learned a couple of important lessons on my inaugural visit to Cleveland's hippest farmer's market: the Tremont Farmer's Market. It was a crummy day in terms of weather, but the market itself was still well-attended. There were several producers on hand that day, a few folks selling plants, lots of bakers, live music, a blade sharpener, and a cooking demonstration. I learned my lessons from Ricardo Sandoval, the cooking demonstrator, and George Remington, a fellow OSU Extension Market Gardener Training Program Graduate, who was selling his plants.

Ricardo Sandoval is a mover and a shaker in terms of Cleveland restaurateurs, owning upscale places like Fat Cat's and Felice's, as well as my favorite martini bar, the Lava Lounge. He's also firmly dedicated to buying as much food as locally as possible, even having an urban garden and water barrels at his Fat Cat's. Ricardo taught me my second lesson that day, which is listed here first because of importance.

That lesson is one that any salesperson, anywhere, selling anything, could have told me and has told me, and my dad when he reads this is going to be rolling his eyes back into his head, and that lesson is MAKE THE SALE!

Earlier that day, I had harvested a five gallon bucket's worth of bok choy and needed an outlet other than my friends to unload some. Now mind you, Mr. Sandoval had said at a lecture that I attended that he sometimes buys at the Tremont Farmer's Market. So, I thought I'd put these two concepts together and try and sell my bok choys to Mr. Sandoval, if he just happened to be there.

When I got to Tremont, I walked north along W 14th on the sidewalk into the Market. About half the vendors were located along W 14th on that strip of grass between the street and the sidewalk. After my notherly jaunt, the market makes a half circle that could be described as southeast or counterclockwise depending on your way of thinking.

One of the last farmers in the northerly row, a farmer named Floyd of Red Basket Farm, was the only the only vendor with a hint of bok choy and that came in the form of taken-down signage. When asked about the sign, Floyd advised me that he was all sold out of bok choy that day, which made me feel like I wasn't stepping on any official vendors' of the Tremont Farmer's Market toes, if I were to see Ricardo Sandoval and if he wanted to buy my bok choys.

As I arced around counterclockwise at about 4'o'clock, Ricardo Sandoval was just breaking down his cooking demonstration. After introductions and some curious small talk that included a gift to me of my first green garlic, I mustered the courage to see if he would like to see, if not, buy some of my bok choys. Somewhat amazingly and surprisingly, Ricardo was receptive, just not at the Tremont Farmer's Market, which I naively/negligently didn't even consider in my scheme of things.

And here is where the lesson was learned. Ricardo wanted to meet me back at the restaurant in 2o minutes. But I already had a group of friends waiting for me at Taco Tuesday (I know this is totally all my bad). So I countered with how about in an hour and a half? In which, Ricardo reluctantly accepted.

Making a very long story finally short, and after my full belly of tacos and Mexican beers, and friendly chit chat, I proceeded with my five gallons of bok choy over to the restaurant, where of course, Ricardo was nowhere to be found, and I, of course, lost the sale.

The lesson learned here is when in the process of making the sale, hold on to that sale by all means, until that sale has been done sold. Me having Taco Tuesday plans and countering 20 minutes with an hour and half was just stupid. In the end I left some bok choy samples, but I was still left with about three gallons worth, which eventually made it to my friends.

Now the second lesson is less dramatic, and it comes by way of George Remington and (I think) his Morningside Farm. To put it bluntly, George has the best, biggest, baddest tomato plants around at ridiculously affordable prices. These things were three foot tall with monster stalks. He had about 20 cultivars, and the purple were mostly sold out.

A few weeks back this lesson had been alluded to when Subee-1 saved my plants when it acted like a greenhouse for a week. Now, George had perfect examples of what can be done early in Northeast Ohio to tomatoes with a greenhouse. Needless to say, it was impressive; and needless to say, the lesson learned is that I need a greenhouse or similar structure, preferably, a mobile one. Now, George did you do any supplemental heating?

The picture above is of another haul of bok choys, demostrating three different sizes, including some ultra-minis, which really couldn't stand the onslaught of slugs and extreme wind/rain and won't be grown again. The other picture is of my garden a few weeks ago; however, it doesn't look like that as of now. Over and out.

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